Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2009


  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2009
  • by Spaeth Communications

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There were a lot of examples to pick from this month. We have a Belgian farmer, the finance minister of Japan, a CDC director on swine flu vaccine preparation and a letter from the president of Florida State about legendary head coach Bobby Bowden. The most popular example would be David Letterman’s mea culpa and CBS’ attempt to ignore it. Rising from the digital world, we have WRONG THINGS TO SAY by an attorney for bloggers, football players on twitter and e-mails between Bank of America board members. Then, we have another example of tin ear disease, this time from the Tribune Company.

WINNING COMMENT

 “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape,” said comedian and The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg about the conviction of film director Roman Polanski. (What can she be thinking? Peter Fonda also advocated for Polanski’s release saying, “He is not responsible for killing anyone.”  A petition was also signed by people like Salman Rushdie, who should know better.  The most bizarre comment came from studio executive Harvey Weinstein who said, “Hollywood has the best moral compass because it has compassion.”  News reports carried complete accounts of Polanski’s actions of luring a 13-year-old girl to a house, giving her alcohol and then violating her sexually. Reporters also found a 1979 interview with Polanski where he bragged about his actions saying, “If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But….Everyone wants to [have sex with] young girls.” Polanski actually used the “f” word instead of the phrase “have sex with.” Depraved is the word that comes to mind to describe him and his defenders.)

The Washington Times, “Acclaimed directors don’t go to jail?” Oct. 5, 2009

The Dallas Morning News, “Hollywood’s lost moral compass,” Oct. 2, 2009

RUNNERS-UP

“We’re not radicals,” said Erwin Schoepges, a Belgian farmer who participated in protests in Luxembourg. The group of farmers extracted €280 million in subsidies from the European Union after burning hay and throwing eggs at police. (Reports in the European press seem to indicate that the word “radical” was suggested by authorities. In any case, it’s an example of how the word drove the quote.)

The Wall Street Journal, “EU Buckles on Dairy Subsidies,” Oct. 20, 2009

“I’m not a politician or a religious nut. I’m just an engineer,” said Walton McCarthy who designs and builds “self-contained underground composite structures” or bomb shelters. (Business is apparently brisk in the U.S. We hope he expands internationally to Afghanistan soon. The whole interview is a marketing disaster: He tells the reporter that his lifelong goal was set when he discovered his family had a euthanasia plan in case of a nuclear attack. He should have stuck to the benefits of the structures. The editor who wrote the headline did him a big favor.)

The Dallas Business Journal, “Explosive ingenuity: Walton McCarthy designs modern-day underground shelters to protect clients from long-term effects of disasters,” Sept. 18-24, 2009

“Those who may call this pork barrel spending – that’s a total lie,” said Japan’s finance minister, Hirohisa Fujii, when describing Japan’s public debt. Although interest eats up a fifth of the country’s budget, the country is issuing 10 trillion yen in new bonds. (Since we don’t think this is defensible in any way, we can’t think of any substitute language and would only point that this is a classic “bimbo.” He says it’s not pork barrel; we think it is.)

The New York Times, “Weighted by Debt: Japan’s Public Spending Offers a Sobering Lesson,” Oct. 21, 2009

“We think there were no shortcuts taken at all with this vaccine,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Disease Control’s Prevention Center for Immunization and Respiratory diseases concerning the H1N1 flu vaccine. (She “thinks” there were “no short cuts taken?” This is hardly inspiring. An example of inverted speech because she goes on to note, “We’re completely comfortable with it.”  She should have limited herself to the second part of the quote.)

The Commercial Appeal, “Le Bonheur workers get first doses of swine flue vaccine,” Oct. 5, 2009

“There is nothing illegal about their posts,” said the lawyer for several bloggers who are at odds with Texas Instruments about blog postings that advise others how to revamp the operating system of a certain TI calculator. (TI demanded the group remove their blog posts; they did. Then, an advocacy group got involved, and the blog posts went back up. While the situation is an example of how careful individuals and companies need to be about blogs, the lawyer’s quote is clearly the wrong one.  Plus, his quote was picked out and featured as a headline. He should have used his quote to emphasize the First Amendment component or the bloggers’ admiration for TI.)

Dallas Business Journal, “Hobbyists tangle with TI,” Oct. 23, 2009

Korean conglomerate Doosan, recently acquired Bobcat, a North American manufacturer of construction equipment. In an article about the takeover, Scott Nelson, who runs Bobcat and other Doosan companies said, “There’s no question that Asian culture is different from American culture, but I wouldn’t call it a clash at all.” (The word “clash” was almost certainly injected into the interview by the reporter, but Nelson picks it up and repeats it several times. Nelson tries to characterize the relationship as “a learning curve,” but the repetition of the word ‘clash’ crowds out whatever other quote he could have offered to emphasize the synergies between Bobcat and Doosan.)

BusinessWeek, “Korea’s Biggest Foreign Deal Ever Bites Back,” Oct. 26, 2009

WRONG THING TO SAY

“You’re a worthless piece of s**t and I wouldn’t p**s on you if you were on fire,” was the response from Portsmouth, Ohio’s mayor after a blogger asked him for some documents under the state’s public record law. (To make it worse, the mayor offered this comment in an e-mail! He added, “You’re a poor, lonely, jealous, old man with aspirations of being a writer. You write your lies and uneducated opinions on people and issues from behind the safety of your slobber stained keyboard with the hope that someone will read them that doesn’t know you and believe you’re more than the pitiful, broke-down, lizard looking thing that you are…”  Wow! Apparently someone hasn’t learned that abuse and attack are mother’s milk to a ‘reporter,’ and that citizen journalism, which has always been a key part of the American landscape, is here to stay. The blogger is a retired English professor who asked for records about the construction of a new local park. The mayor’s remarks made it into the local newspaper and blogs across the country.)

Gawker.com, “Meet Jim Kalb, Another Small-Town Mayor Who Hates Bloggers,” Oct. 1, 2009

According to their head coach, the Texas Tech football players’ “fat little girl friends” were the cause of their surprise 52-30 loss to Texas A&M. Coach Mike Leach used the phrase three times following the game and then repeated it in defense of his strategy of blaming the girls. (Alas, that phrase will live forever, and we predict Coach Leach will come to regret it. Besides, many of those girls are gorgeous…)

ESPN.com, “Leach Doesn’t Regret Remark,” Oct. 26, 2009

EXCUSE US?

Is Coach Bobby Bowden in or out at Florida State University?  The letter from FSU President T.K. Wetherell about head football coach and long-time legend Bobby Bowden is a puzzle. It begins, “Coach Bobby Bowden is a friend of mine.”  Watch out when they begin with that; check your wallet! Then Wetherell writes, “I want to assure all fans, friends, supporters and alumni of Florida State University that the transition will be finalized. Jimbo Fisher will be Florida State University’s next head football coach.” Later on, the president writes, “I know he (Bowden) will do the right thing.” Translation: it’s time to go. The funniest part is the closing line, “Neither the university nor I will have further comment on this matter until [the end of year].” Of course, he’s just commented at length!

Letter posted on FSU’s website, “Statement from FSU President T.K. Wetherell regarding Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden”

DAVID LETTERMAN – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

By now, everyone has heard, read and seen Late Show host David Letterman’s mea culpa about sleeping with a staff member and allegedly being extorted by a CBS producer to keep the secret. In our view, Letterman gets an A+ for handling the crisis by delivering the news himself immediately after testifying to the grand jury. Alas, this is an instance of what Don Etling at Fleishman-Hillard said years ago, “You simply can’t communicate your way out of a situation you have behaved your way into.” Plus, CBS inexplicably tried to hide the story or tamp it down, refusing to include the segment on CBS.com and insisting people take down the unauthorized segment on YouTube. (CBS requests didn’t work. YouTube reported that the segment was viewed 600,000 times within a few days.)

USA Today, “Letterman: I’m terribly sorry,” Oct. 6, 2009

USA Today, “Top reasons to call the cops – or not,” Oct. 6, 2009

The New York Times, “CBS Removes David Letterman’s Mea Culpa From YouTube,” Oct. 4, 2009

TWITTER EXAMPLE

Coaches Mack Brown, Rex Ryan and Mike Leach all coped with players twittering. The problem is that players don’t see Twitter as anything more than comments between the “guys”. Tech linebacker, Marlon Williams, tweeted that he didn’t see why he was in a meeting room “when the head coach can’t even be on time.” What he doesn’t realize is “the guys” consist of over 40,000 followers. (First amendment rights are a big issue, but where is common sense?)

The Dallas Morning News, “Message sent in Twitter discussion,” Sept. 30, 2009

POWER OF WORDS

Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder of Toyota, raised eyebrows with an unusually passionate and personal “apology.”  He mentions a list of problems, among them a California accident that claimed four lives, describing it as “agonizing” and then declaring that his company was “shamefully” ill-prepared for the global economic situation. (The speech to the National Press Club of Japan drew worldwide headlines. While the language was slightly over-the-top for Japan, where apologizing for bad performance is expected, it’s an example of how communication today is global. Words drive headlines and coverage. It’s also an example of why it’s probably a good idea to think in terms of video. Some reports had Mr. Toyoda saying the company “was near capitulation to irrelevance of death,” and others characterized his comments as saying that not to grapple with the global situation would be tantamount to capitulation to irrelevance or death.)

The New York Times, “Toyota chief offers list of apologies” Oct. 3, 2009

“I can’t speak to addiction but a lot of people would say that if you’re using anything as an escape, you have a problem,” said tennis star Andre Agassi, confirming that he used crystal meth in the late 1990s.  (I guess all we can say is, “It’s book time!” What a shame.  Agassi managed to leave out the portion where he lied about using banned substances. After a failed drug test, Agassi claimed he “accidentally” drank from a soda that had been spiked with meth by someone named “Slim.” The tennis association accepted his explanation and let him off.  So the message to young people is – it’s fine to use meth and banned substances, and if you get caught, just look sad and lie.)

TodayShow.com, “Andre Agassi: I used Crystal Meth,” Oct. 27, 2009

TIN EAR CANDIDATES

The Tribune Company, which is in bankruptcy court, is cutting jobs and sending around memos asking for “shared sacrifices.” However, they found time to ask the court to approve $66 million in bonuses for their executives. The company’s reasoning from CFO Chandler Bigelow III was the bonuses would help “incentivize our key managers to battle all of the intense challenges that unfortunately our local media businesses are facing.”   (A New York Times reporter called the company “tone deaf” and he’s right. What are the others at the company being asked for except to “battle all the intense challenges.” If the company hadn’t loaded up with $8 billion in debt, they’d have a lot fewer “intense challenges.” Then, Chairman Sam Zell raided the employee stock ownership plan in order to takeover the company. Pardon us, he “used” it to takeover the company. “Shared sacrifice?” Why doesn’t management just give everyone a container of Morton Salt, so they can rub it in the self-inflicted wounds?)

The New York Times, “Of Layoffs, Bankruptcy And Bonuses,” Oct. 5, 2009

E-MAIL EXAMPLES

“Unfortunately, it’s screw the shareholders,”  wrote Bank of America board member, Charles K. Gifford, in an e-mail during briefings about Bank of America accepting a second round of government financing following its takeover of Merrill Lynch. (The recipient of the e-mail, board member Thomas May, actually wrote back to remind Gifford not to e-mail! “No trail,” he replied.  The e-mails have come to light during litigation about whether Bank of America concealed information from shareholders. The two board members later tried to expand the exchange to cover-up its intent, with May responding, “Good comeback!”  Apparently Mr. Gifford was on target.)

The New York Times, “E-mail Show Concerns Over Merrill Deal,” Oct. 14, 2009


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